These three books offer such a delightful way to engage in conversational English. Each page has a work of art followed by a description like, “Fashion is bias cut,” with a photo example. Or “New York is atmospheric,” or “Art is rendered.”
When I brought these books to my sessions, my friend was delighted. She kept lists of the new words. We discussed the pictures, looked up definitions and had some good laughs.
I highly recommend these wonderful resources produced by the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Lock-down, isolation, and lethargy might go hand in hand. Here at Kansas State University, our Bridges International club started a virtual tour on Route 66, starting in Chicago and ending in California. How does it work? We joined the company, My Virtual Mission, which records how many miles the participants individually step, walk, run, ride, or paddle to a map on their website. Each person’s activity moves the whole group along. Currently, we are about 40% of the way, somewhere in western Oklahoma.
But why are we doing this? Well, first of all, knowing that you can inch your team across a map closer to a destination is motivating to move when sitting is easier. We also connect with each other daily by looking at our activities. At the Conversation Cafe, our weekly English discussion group, we learn about cities on the route and also cities in the hometowns of our international students. There is a spiritual component as well. Physical journeys change our perspective on life and give us new experiences. The ancient practice of going on pilgrimages suggest that travel can be an intentional way to connect with God in a new way.
All of us look forward to a new beginning at certain junctures in our lives. We move, begin a new job, start a new relationship, or a new academic course. Hopefully, we have learned from our past mistakes and successes and hope things will go better as we start again. While we might be apprehensive or even sad about what we have left behind, still there may be a glimmer of hope, an excitement for what might be next.
The Conversation Art Card, A New Beginning, is a way to have a discussion over a new start. Look it over, show it to a friend, and learn something about yourself.
What do you notice in this work of art?
Sphinx of Hatshepsut, ca. 1479-1458 B.C. From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
2. A new beginning often starts with a new job, school, or relationship. What expectations do you have for yourself in a new beginning?
3. Choose a or b below:
a. Eli Khamarov said, “The best things in life are unexpected because there were no expectations.” What do you think Khamarov means?
b. The Old Testament prophet Micah describes what God expects of people. “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). Restate these thoughts in your own words. Do you think God’s expectations are reasonable and doable?
4. The sphinx sculpture shows Hatshepsut, a female pharaoh of Egypt. While acting as regent for young Thutmose III, she assumed and established her supreme authority. One way she did this was by commissioning statues of herself. To the Egyptians, a sphinx represented a king. Clearly, Hatshepsut marked a new beginning for herself as a pharaoh. Draw a picture or find a digital image representing a new beginning for you.
Each summer at KSU, our club hosts a summer project. It is a time when international students have more time and can take on greater responsibilities in meeting new students and offering them a variety of activities. The center piece for these activities is the Conversation Cafe. Fortunately, with the relaxation of COVOD 19 restrictions, we can meet for fun and conversation, staying socially distant, of course!
This summer, a friend of mine, Adeline Chang suggested we have topics centered around the theme of folk and fairy tales. She choose 8 stories from around the world. Each story teaches a moral or lesson. We read through the story together and answer four questions. Already, we have had some delightful conversations.
Where to find the discussion guides? On this website, go to Conversation Discussion Guides and then Eight Weeks of Conversation Cafe.
I hope you have as much fun with these stories as we are having.
Cancelations. Adjustments. Alternate plans. This is what’s new.
I had hoped that this would be the summer the Conversation Art Cards would be distributed world wide by students on summer missions. But of course that went by the wayside. No one is going far.
Realizing that many plans and meetings had shifted to Zoom meetings, I began to hope a website could be made for the cards that would make it easy for anyone anywhere to use the cards for discussion. Enter Cru Research and Development and Denise DiSarro who created a website that is attractive and easy to us. Please check it out. We at Bridges International at Kansas State University have found using the art cards online produces fun, interesting and stimulating conversation. Perhaps it would work for your group as well?
Please look it up at wwwconversationartcards.com.
I wish you enjoyment this summer, in spite of change, especially for your children.
The Young Amphibians, 1903. Joaquin Sorolla. Philadelphia Museum of Art
Thorton Wilder once said, “When you’re safe at home you wish you were having an adventure; when you’re having an adventure you wish you were safe at home.”
The thing is that we are all safe at home these days wishing for an adventure; not the scary kind where we get in an accident or contract a dangerous Corona Virus. No, we long for an adventure that reveals beauty and brings personal enrichment. Perhaps this is the time to pull out the discussion guide on Adventure from the list of Lifestyle topics. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the breath-taking beauty of Zion National Park seen through the eyes of Franz Bischoff.
Painting by Franz Bischoff, before 1929, Zion National Park
Today begins Holy Week, the time when Christians remember the events leading up to the death of Jesus Christ. Holy Week culminates next Sunday, April 12, when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. On our Facebook page for our English conversation club, we are posting a great work of art for people to enjoy and comment on. The art is selected from countries around the world. Perhaps you would like to check it out @ https://www.facebook.com/groups/KSUConversationCafe/
Last week, a friend told me she was so worried about the Coronavirus she was having trouble sleeping. And no wonder. Recent headlines reflect the fear gripped by nations and people as the virus spreads. It takes time to sort out what news is accurate and what is not. In some places, classes are canceled and workers told to stay home in efforts to keep the virus contained. Never mind thinking about going on a cruise!
Last Friday night, at our community group, we discussed a Christian reaction to the virus. We talked about fear, judging others, and prejudice some people voice against Chinese. The discussion guide is under Conversation Discussion Guides, Bible Discussion Guides, Topics from a Biblical Perspective. Please check it out. As always, I welcome feedback.
Springtime hike at with international friends at Clinton Lake, Kansas
This image outlines the basic path of the monomyth, or “Hero’s Journey” from Joseph Campbell. (commons.wikimedia.org)
Have you ever noticed the similarity of hero stories? Someone is called to leave their ordinary lives behind and start on an adventure. They encounter danger, difficulties, and temptations. Often they find a mentor to help them. Through their struggles, they eventually overcome and go on to help others in their journeys. Whether it is a story from Disney, a mythical hero, or a true story of someone who has extraordinary courage, we are inspired to do better, to cope with our journey.
The Hero Story of Jesus Christ is a hero story like no other. You can find it under the heading of “Conversation Discussion Guides,” “Bible Discussion Guides,” and then “The Hero Story.”
Come and be inspired.